The president of a top-flight French football team has said a letter reported by the Guardian alleging he asked for €2m to be paid to a player’s agent – in violation of the sport’s rules – is a forgery.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Nasser Al Khelaifi will start legal proceedings in France over the letter, which the Guardian said appears to bear his signature next to a request for payment to midfielder Javier Pastore’s agent.
Such a request by a club president is banned under rules set out by the sport’s governing body, Fifa.
The Guardian said the letter was included as a PDF file sent by email in a “large tranche of documents” to them, German daily Der Spiegel and French news outlet Mediapart who also ran the story.
Lawyers for Al Khelaifi (pictured) have said all three titles refused to provide them with a copy of the document when asked for his response to their questions, claiming it would expose the source of the leak.
Carter Ruck, for Al Khelaifi, said in a statement: “It is now clear that this explanation was untrue.
“Mediapart illustrated its article on the subject yesterday with a full copy of the purported letter in question and, in doing so, did nothing whatsoever to reveal the identity of its source.
“The document includes nothing that discloses the identity of the person(s) who provided it to the journalists and their refusal to provide a copy to Mr Al Khelaifi prior to publication can therefore only be explained on the basis that they did not wish him to have an opportunity to rebut a story that they had already decided to publish.”
They said the letter is a fake and was not written or signed by Al Khelaifi. He is filing a criminal complaint for forgery and the use of forged material in France.
A spokesperson for Carter Ruck said the conduct of journalists at the three titles is “viewed as being of very serious concern” and a legal position in relation to them is “under consideration”.
A spokesperson for the Guardian said the title had nothing to add beyond its reporting of the matter.
Picture: Reuters/Charles Platiau